Joseph Dawson (September ??, 1888 - April 15th, 1912) was a trimmer of the Titanic. He died in the sinking. Without knowing about him, James Cameron invented a character named Jack Dawson for his 1997 Film Titanic, who has many similarities with the trimmer.
He was born in Dublin, Ireland as the son of Patrick and Catherine "Kate" Dawson.
He appears on the 1901 census with his parents and sister Maggie, living in Lower Rutland Street, 49, Dublin. That was the poorest region of Dublin, with only 2 rooms.
He moved to Southampton to look for work. He signed-on the Adriatic on July 24th 1911. At his first time at sea, he discovered there was a strict separation of crew members, like the passenger classes. As a trimmer, he was at the very bottom of the ladder.
In fall 1911, Joseph signed-on the Majestic. During the coal strike of early 1912, the Majestic's coal was taken away to supply the Titanic. Joseph also signed-on the Titanic, his last time at sea was 7 months ago. He signed-on as a trimmer with his own signature, indicating he must have had education.
Joseph was off-duty when the ship hit the iceberg, because he wore a coat. He failed to find a lifeboat and was forced to swim in the icy water. He managed to avoid falling debris, or a falling funnel, or the falling stern. He kept swimming to the lifeboats, but died of hypothermia before he reached them. His body stayed afloat long enough to be recovered by the Mackay-Bennett (#227) and brought to Halifax. Nobody claimed his body, so he was buried in Fairview Lawn Cemetery on 8 May 1912.